Help is on the way for those who risk their own safety to rescue people from the backcountry.
The provincial government is giving $10 million to be split among ground search and rescue teams in a one-time funding to help bolster training, administrative support and equipment renewals.
“It’s a small army of 2,500 volunteers that comb the province’s backcountry, rappel into steep ravines and weather the worst of the elements, while leaving behind the comforts of home to go seek and find those who are lost or injured,” said Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto in a release. “Their selflessness is woven into the fabric of their service, and today’s investment continues on our commitment to strengthening them and the tapestry of public safety throughout the province.”
Over the coming months, the BC Search and Rescue Association will also work with its membership to bolster ground search and rescue services throughout the province.
Once allocated, the funding will be spent according to the needs of the local ground search and rescue teams.
The newly announced funding is in addition to the $6.3 million that the B.C. government is already providing each year to cover ground search and rescue operational costs for deployment.
WATCH: The BC government has announced $10 million in new funding for search and rescue organizations across the province, many of which are run by volunteers. Mike Danks with North Shore Rescue joins us with reaction.
“This is a very big boost. I think it is going to help a lot,” says Mike Danks with North Shore Rescue. “But again, moving forward we need stable funding on a consistent basis.”
North Shore Rescue had the busiest year to date in 2015, with 138 calls answered. Its daily operations are funded by private donations, and the team is run by volunteers.
The Tim Jones Legacy Fund was set up after the death of the team’s longtime leader to raise $6 million for a long-term endowment, so that the team would be able to cover its $500,000 annual costs with the interest alone.
Over a half-million dollars has been raised so far.
“I can tell you any funding that comes in on a stable basis makes a huge difference,” says Danks. “We don’t have a budget to work with. We have to get out there and fundraise money on a yearly basis to make sure that we are ready to respond.”